In Modern Greek, the word "kithara" has come to mean "guitar". Guitars are the preferred accompaniment in activities where singing is present. In the olden times, guitars are used by men when they sing "harana" (old Filipino courtship tradition of serenading women) in the Philippines.
When we think of guitars, we think of Cebu.
The center of the guitar-making industry in Cebu is in Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan Island. Other string musical instruments made in Lapu-Lapu City include ukuleles, banjos, and mandolins.
Guitars made in Cebu are famous in the Philippines. It is of world-class quality, durable and affordable. Cebu made guitars is popular among local and foreign tourists who buy them as gifts and souvenir items.
Philippine guitars are made with narra, hardwood (kamagong) or jackfruit (nangka) wood. The narra and kamagong are woods that do not easily break and can withstand temperature changes practical in our country's climate. The guitar body is sawn from a pattern sketched on plywood. After that, the 2 curvy sides are then put intact by gluing a third piece. It is bound by
nylon strings, pulled and tied tightly until the glue dries and harden. The guitar is then varnished to shine and to give it an extra protection. The guitars for export are given more coatings of varnish to make them more durable.
So if you're thinking on buying a guitar as a gift for yourself or for someone this holiday season, head off to Cebu. You'll find the best guitars there in the country where guitar making has been passed on through generations to perfection.
Cebu Guitar History
During the Spanish times, the guitar is believed to have been first introduced and manufactured in Cebu. Guitar making in Cebu became an industry involving many families from generation after generation. The most prominent people who formally started the guitar industry are the Malingin family. Particularly the 3 Malingin siblings, with the names of Susing, Lilang and Quirico, have also become renowned brands.
Presently, guitars made by Quirico's family are sold under the brand name Inday Celia's Guitar. And, Lilang's Guitars is now owned by Alegre Guitars.
In 1949, Juanito Valiente Sr., a merchant and an excellent luthier, started making Cebu handcrafted guitars and sold them in a small store owned by his wife, Susing. This was the humble beginning of Susing's Guitar. Juanito's excellent craftsmanship and entrepreneurial skills led him to expand his business. He hired more luthiers to meet the growing demand for his quality handcrafted guitars. During the Vietnam War in the 1960's, American soldiers who were deployed at the Mactan Airbase fancied the Cebu handcrafted guitars for its quality and affordability. Some of the soldiers wanted to customized their guitars according to their taste and own specifications. The high demand of this new market paved the way to the expansion of Susing's Guitar into an industry exporting products to different countries. Susing's Guitar then became a popular guitar brand here and abroad. They are currently exporting guitars and ukulele products to some states in the US, Europe and Asia, aside from the high demand from tourists who visit Cebu and the local market.
Susing's Guitar is known locally and internationally for crafting guitars to perfection. The guitar factory has represented the country as commissioned by the Department of Tourism in various international expos in Hong Kong in 1976, Japan in 1983 and Singapore in 1992. Susing's Guitar was renamed to "The New Susing's Guitar" about a decade ago when Lucrecio Valiente, son of Juanito Valiente Sr., took over the family business. Up to the present, they continue to manufacture world class quality guitar by hiring only the best luthiers.
How to Get There
From Manila, you can fly to Cebu (estimated cost of Php3,000++, round trip, 45 minutes).
photos/source/reference: Bisayang Bizdak FB page | tourismcebu.ph | everythingcebu.com